Parallel computing was the next big challenge

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-03-13 Print this article Print

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, agrees that the task is daunting, noting that there are currently few things that make use of more than two cores, let alone the massively parallel systems that Intel and others have on the drawing board.

"The differences are so great that taking advantage of this may require a new generation of programmers trained from the start to approach the related problems differently," he said.

But both analysts agreed that parallel computing was the next big challenge not only for Microsoft, but also for every company that depended on the PC market, given that Intel and AMD continued to speed up their processors by greater parallel processing rather than speeding up clock speeds.

"As a result, only applications that can run tasks in parallel benefit from the speedup, and that leaves out a lot of PC applications," Helm said.

Enderle also questioned whether a "killer application" will bring this computing power to the forefront, as Mundie believes, just like what word processing and spreadsheets did for the PC and how e-mail and the Web browser popularized the Internet.

"The traditional -killer application' might not be the answer here. A system that could showcase intelligence would be the equivalent of the killer application," he said.  

Mundie also acknowledged that pushing a company as big as Microsoft to look past historical strengths and traditional ways of doing things to focus on new technology was not an easy task.

But to Enderle, the solution lies in "skunk works efforts," where some staff are taken off campus and allowed to work in relative isolation from the other corporate units so they are free of the conventional thinking and policies that make it almost impossible to create a truly new way of doing things.

"Every company is resistant to change and the larger the company, the more resistance you are likely to run into. Microsoft is really large," he said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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